With Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright fails, but it’s not from lack of trying. Edgar Wright fails, but it's not him failing, not really, it’s the movie concept itself continually internally imploding. It’s the characters on board in the film who really should have gone down with a sinking ship.
If I had a guess, I would say that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is Edgar Wright’s The Outsiders for the internet generation: his timely, thematic tribute to children who are also adults, who are gapped somewhere in a mindless reality between learning how to behave in the real world and the rebellious nature they learned as offbeat teens. It’s a cool concept, to take a slacker generation defined by terrible, loud music and video games, to turn their reality into a video game itself, all the while allowing the real life/video game characters to talk like the over-educated, under-experienced generation that they are. There’s a lot a person can do with a reality that’s also a video game. Mostly, they can be hip.
Sometimes being hip isn’t being square. Like when our anti-hero, Scott Pilgrim, shows up at a club and a video game graphic pops up saying, “The Rockit. Fun Fact: This Place is a Toilet.” Like when there’s a shot of a girl meeting a boy at the head of a staircase that extends on and on and on, as unsurely as two people fumbling together for the first time in the dark. Like when some genius uses Broken Social Scene’s anthems for a 17-year-old girl to showcase the pain of their 17-year-old character. These are the moments when Scott Pilgrim goes bigger than most other films…a comment I will sully by noting that Scott Pilgrim maybe should have just gone home.
This is a DVD review, and so I’ll need to give you more than vague commentary and extend into some basic plot. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old slacker/hipster trying to make it with his band Sex Bob-omb. He’s also dating a 17-year-old Chinese Catholic schoolgirl named Knives (Ellen Wong). He lives with his gay friend, Wallace (Kieran Culkin) -- the one actor in this film who is trying desperately to save it -- and he is grounded occasionally by his has-her-shit-mostly-together sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick) -- who is too good for the role, but is amusing beside Wallace. At the start of the film, Scott Pilgrim doesn’t have his shit together, but this is never commented on, because in the world of Scott Pilgrim, no one really has his or her shit together, and all prefer it that way. Then Pilgrim meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who also doesn’t have her shit together, who has perhaps a more fucked up worldview than anyone else in this film. Soon, Pilgrim learns that Flowers is haunted by seven exes, exes who are willing to fight to the death in order to keep her from happiness with a new man. If it sounds ridiculous, it is, but that’s still not enough of a reason to hate this movie. Part of watching this film to fruition is understanding that the rules of the video game world meld with the rules of the movie, and if viewers cannot get on board with that concept, they shouldn’t be viewers at all. Scott must fight against Flower’s exes, between two women vying for his affections, for himself as a new person, and against the behaviors he’s learned to hide behind in his 22 years.
In the end, Edgar Wright argues, Scott Pilgrim is a better person -- a better man? -- because he learns the power of self-respect. Unfortunately, after too many ridiculous fight scenes, too much hiding instead of manning up, too much wishy-washy, crap dialogue, scenes like the Seinfeld homage that were trying for something but fell short, terrible pacing, and too much Coke Zero (Seriously, product placement? This kid would drink Mountain Dew.), no one left in the audience should really care anymore. Even if, at the end, people are still on board, even if the zany humor and the old video game references are enough, should they be? Today, I got on my Facebook page and an acquaintance of mine’s status was, “Has no idea what he wants.” These people do exist, but they aren’t the norm, and perhaps it would be better to place them more in the lowly context of reality they find themselves at -- with dead-end jobs, with hangovers on weekdays, waking up in cruddy stranger’s beds -- than in a world where enemies turn to gold coins and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is their girlfriend. Thank you, Edgar Wright, for forever capturing a part of this generation that most people Pilgrim’s age scorn and shun. Thank you, Scott Pilgrim, for showing me exactly who I don’t want to be.
The disc, like the film, is set up to be reminiscent of a video game. Instead of the regular Universal shot at the beginning of the film, the Universal logo appears in video game pixels and sounds. There’s advertising for other Universal flicks on the menu page in the right hand corner that ruins the picture. There is an option to turn the advertising off, but it is elusive.
The disc also gives you a “social Blu-ray option,” where you can post your opinions of the film on Facebook or other social networks via your Blu-ray player. Although I would never use an option like this, it is the first time I’ve seen an add-on like this for a DVD. Maybe not Guinness Book of World Records worthy, but unlike the new trend to include a regular disc with the Blu-ray, it’s a new idea.
The disc has a ton of extras, everything from documentaries, bloopers that mostly involve messing up lines and laughing, deleted scenes, alternate footage, and trailers. I wasn’t particularly impressed with either the format of the disc or its extras. All the extra information present on the disc seems to be there as incentive to get people to buy the DVD. I would presume this is because Scott Pilgrim vs. the World didn’t even make its 80 million dollar budget back in theaters. Even if you are a staunch fan of the film, I don’t think the extras are necessary, or even an added bonus to buying the basic film. Netflix would work just fine. I will say this about the extras, however: they do a great job of explaining exactly where that cool 80 mil went.